Time has been flying for the past four weeks. It feels like yesterday having entered the virtual classroom of Knight-Mozilla learning lab for the first time. Now, by submitting our final assignment, we want to thank Knight-Mozilla for making this lab possible, the learning lab staff for your dedication and giving us valuable feedback and all our classmates for making this lab an interesting experience and great fun. See you in Berlin, guys – here we go!
“Whatever the future holds for accuracy and journalism as a whole, it seems certain that the river of errors and corrections will continue to flow for decades to come.”
Jeff Jarvis (2007)
It could be so simple. The journalist works accurately, his texts are wirtten to the best of his knowledge and belief. And if there is something wrong, his colleagues and readers will point that out. The journalist thanks them for the hint, corrects the error and has made the world a little bit “correcter”.
Well. There are doubts about the accuracy in journalism. Texts are produced under time pressure. The fact-checkers are retired, their colleagues are busy and the readers indignant. The journalist is annoyed by the hint, he might correct his error and blames the news business. Although you can hardly find the type of journalist described in the first place, there is something you definitely come by regularly: errors.
It’s these mistakes Corrigo is focused on. Of course, there’s a high degree of professionalism in online journalism and you can find both extremes of the case scenarios described earlier.
Technological change has not only increased the need for quality control – but made it possible in the first place. The internet in general and social media in particular enables all citizens to participate in quality control.
Good News – Bad News
That’s the good news: There are millions of fact checkers out there and you always find somebody who knows it better.
The bad news is: The european research project MediaAcT has shown that many of the established tools of media accountability – including the press councils – fail to systematically involve citizens.
Without the public’s voice, these instruments are too quiet. Only as a common orchestra, supported by the mighty choir of the public, they can be heard.
The Corrigo Orchestra
There are already some pioneering projects like MediaBugs and NewsTrust, which share some of Corrigo’s ideas. While their services vary considerably in function and degree of professionalization, they have one thing in common: they do not reach many people.
And as long as Crowdsourced Media Accountability Services do not achieve critical mass, publishers and media professionals will not have the pressure to diminish the number of errors.
Still: Pressure alone would not lead to less errors and transparency. If the Corrigo orchestra wants to be heard it will need the right “tonality”. This is one of our key findings after analysing error culture in journalism. Instead of “crowd versus Journalism” Corrigos slogan should be: “Journalism featuring Crowd”.
Corrigo is a Crowdsourced Media Accountability Service that helps its users to flag and correct factual errors, missing links and typos in online news sources. It comes as a browser add-on based on web annotation technology. This makes you see errors and corrections right in the context. To give you a better impression of our idea we produced this screencast:
- Corrigo increases the visibility of errors in the direct context of the article.
- Corrigo accelerates the process of reporting and correcting errors and helps to document it.
- Corrigo separates error messages from comment threads and helps editors, to identify them easily.
- Corrigo lives and breathes in the browser.
- Corrigo stops the spreading of errors by marking them in correlated texts.
- Corrigo enables a comparison of the accuracy of online media.
- New browser versions bring a need for constantly updating the required add-on with them.
- Web annotation systems are barely known and used.
- To sustain further development, communication and technical infrastructure, Corrigo is dependent on funding.
- Up to now: Corrigo is not working in Apps.
- Corrigo is able to establish a more open in dealing with errors and to increase the quality in online media.
- Corrigo has the potential to build a network of existing instruments of Media Accountability.
- Corrigo can be supplemented with additional function, for example, connections to services such as churnalism.com or tineye.com, web services, looking for the origins of texts and images to find unlabeled news releases and stock material.
- Journalists may use Corrigo pro-actively. With the help of Corrigo they could ask the crowd to verify a statement in an interview or a text.
- Via plugins Corrigo can be connected with content management systems, in order to enable an efficient management of errors and corrections within a few clicks.
- As a non-profit open-source project Corrigo can be internationalized and extended functionally.
- The existing culture of errors can complicate the introduction on the market.
- Despite all methods of quality control within the community: An abuse of technology for can never be excluded.
- Some legal issues are still unclear. Court decisions may change the legal framework to the disadvantage of Corrigo.